Friday, 25 June 2010

Garden Update

Well, it has been a little while, since I last posted. But here I am again. Sitting down, eating a fresh blackberry muffin just minutes from the pan. You might be wondering where I got the blackberries, and I would respond and tell you. Up past the fence on our property along the bank of the highway we have wild blackberries. The canes are by the hundreds, and so are the berries! I think we have been picking for the last week or two. We either go in the early morning or evening, to beastly hot to do in the day time. I think I have picked a total of 1.5 gallons (translate it into cups). The others in my family have picked probably about equal to it.

So, we have gotten a good number of berries, and all for free! It has been great, I only wish we had known about this sooner. But, we didn't have a garden down by the fence to draw us near. Also, my cousin and I did a lot of clearing out near the blackberries, we cut down a lot of tall trees (I'm surprised no police man was driving by and stopped us! yipes! :). It probably helped produce this years berries even better, though I would have welcomed the shade!

Two days ago I got together 10 cups of blackberries. I was going to make blackberry jelly. Why? Because I have never made jelly, and I thought it would be fun, mostly. So, I cooked them up, mashed them, and than put it all in cheese cloth I have and let it drip. I let it drip from sometime in the afternoon, to the next morning, yesterday morning. I than poured the juice into a pot and boiled it. I boiled it until the temp. was 8-10ºF higher than the boiling temp. of water. So, at that point (it took a lot of boiling for 3 cups of juice!) I took it off the stove and ladled it into one pint jar, and than the rest into another pint jar, about 3/4 a cup. I put a canning lid on the full pint and put that away. The other I just left uncovered into the fridge. Mean while, with the pulp from the blackberries I put into another pot, added some dried grapefruit peel, a little lemon juice, and some sugar, and some juice we had. Cooked that up, when it was real hot I spooned it into our apple sauce 'maker'. I put it through that and that took out most of the seeds, or else made them small enough that you cannot taste them as well. So, I was able to blackberry jam and jelly out of it! I thought it was sweet! And because I used enough sour blackberries I didn't need pectin. Now, the jelly in the canning jar actually looks more syrupy than the jelly in the fridge, so we will see if that is syrup or jelly. But the stuff in the fridge really set up just like jelly! Just blackberries and sugar!

Anyway. Garden.

My zucchini are doing great. The first ones seem to be peaking in production, so I am glad that I have six more close behind them bearing fruit. I also have round zucchini I got from a friend, and that should be starting to flower in a couple weeks. So, hopefully I will be set with zucchini for the season. My beans are doing well. I pick enough for a meal every day or two. Though, my production is probably at about peak from the ones that are bearing beans. But I have pole beans that are flowering now. I went to Lowes yesterday and picked up two packets of green beans, radishes, and cucumbers. I think in a week or two my cucumbers will be peaking, so I want more cucumbers. So, I planted another plot of green beans. Mostly one whole packet, about 90 beans. And probably in a week or two I will plant the other packet. They say 60 days till harvest, but I am finding that hard to believe, 60? I mean, I guess they are pole beans.

I planted more cucumbers, not using up even a fourth of them. I hope to keep planting every week or two for the next couple.

Next year I plan to start my beans earlier, and I know which ones I want to do. My shelling beans are about ready to pick.

I have 3 acorn squash on one vine! I have been able to monitor more of the vines we planted with all the blackberry picking. I would say about half made it, half or less. Mostly lack of water is the reason why they didn't make it. Next year I want to do the same, except maybe add tomatoes to it. So that I will have tomatoes and squash and such up by the blackberries.

Tomatoes, none ripe yet, though I probably have over 30 green ones! Thanks to my cousin and a friend at church! I have never really intentionally planted tomatoes. They either came up from the compost, or I picked up a plant at Burger King. I get one almost every year! :) Right by the dumpster, a tomatoe seed sprouted! :)

Corn. The biggest stuff is 2-3 feet high. I have three plots of it, and the stuff that is in full sun is the smallest, partly because it was planted last, partly it needs watering and mulching more than I have given it.

I harvested most of my leaf lettuce last night for supper. I am surprised it has lasted this long. Though, with it being small, and mostly in the shade, thanks to the zucchini, I think that helped a lot.

My parsnips and onions are HUGE! Both are getting near 24 inches tall! My carrots are doing well also. Most of my brassica is bolting. :( All except the cabbage I think. So, I need to compost all that. Next year if I could get most of it out about a month earlier, even 3 weeks, I think it would be enough. Though, we had a pretty warm spring early on, even though we had a severe winter. We had a harsh winter that was fairly short, and a hot spring.

I am selling cucumbers, 10lbs of zucchini, and beans to a friend today! So, that is cool.

Well, I guess that is about all. I could go one, but I think I need to eat breakfast with my siblings and get the day started! :)

English Vintner